NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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December 6, 2013

Boomer Talk: Breaking traditions

There are holiday customs that may have lost their meaning, traditions passed down generation after generation, ones we accept without question. Now, especially around this ever-expanding Christmas season with all its commercial hype, could be a good time to consider what is important to hold onto and what can we let go.

Recently, I took a bold step. I spoke to my two sons and told them, “Although you and your kids have my love and support always, I am eliminating the usual tradition of doing holiday gift-giving.” The sigh I heard on the other end of the phone could have been dismay, but I think it was one of relief.

My family consists of my two sons and four teenage grandkids. They all live far away, and, like most parents of grown children, I wish this were not so. I remember other holidays when we would gather, the children were young, and it was a pleasure to watch them being delighted as they opened all their many gifts.

Until recently, I had always bought into the practice of showing my love in a materialistic sort of way. The nicer the gifts, the more they would know how much I loved them. I would start early, deciding what would be the perfect things for each one of the six. I shopped, I wrapped, I put them in a box, mailed them out so they would get them before the special day.

I wanted to feel the joy of gift-giving. But in recent years, the giving, and sometimes the receiving, of nonessential gifts, became in all honesty more a chore than a pleasure. We were now ordering the items online, and having Barnes & Noble or Amazon do the wrapping and the mailing out, saving us time and effort. It all started to feel empty and impersonal.

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